Meaning of "only" in Essential English Dictionary


adverb uk /ˈəʊnli/

A1 not more than a particular size or amount:

It’ll only take a few minutes.
She’s only fifteen.

A2 not anyone or anything else:

The offer is available to UK residents only.

B1 used to mean that something happened a very short time ago:

She’s only just got here.

B1 used to say that something is not important, or that you did not mean to upset someone:

Don’t worry – it’s only a scratch.
I was only joking.

B1 not in any other place:

These birds are only found in New Zealand.
if only

used to express a wish for something that is impossible or unlikely to happen:

If only I knew the answer!
I only hope/wish

used to emphasize what you are hoping or wishing for:

I only hope you know what you’re doing.
I only wish that I had more time.
not only… (but) also

used to say that more than one thing is true:

Not only did he turn up late, he also forgot his books.

(Definition of “only adverb” from the Cambridge Essential Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)